Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Healthified mac n cheese

I was trying to figure out what to eat for dinner one day when and I opened up the Home and Garden's that came that day and I came across a healthier version of mac and cheese. I am a big mac n cheese lover so if you can make a healthy mac n cheese taste good - you are my best friend! I thought I would try the recipe with a few adaptations:

-Whole wheat pasta 1 and 1/2 cups - I used whole wheat shells
-1 and 1/2 broccoli florets and finely chopped carrots
-1/4 cup finely chopped onion
-4 tsp olive oil
-3/4 cup 75% reduced fat white cheddar cheese
-1/2 cup 75% reduced fat pepper jack cheese
-1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
-1 and 2/3 cups fat free milk
-1 tbsp all-purpose flour
-crushed red pepper and italian seasonings to taste
-some panko bread crumbs to sprinkle on top


1. Heat oven to 425 degrees...while the oven is warming up cook pasta and add broccoli and carrots in the last 3 minutes of cooking...drain pasta and veggies and set aside.

2. While the pasta is cooking heat 2 tsp of olive oil in pan and cook onions until soft and translucent. Remove pan from heat and stir in parmesan cheese...stir until blended.

3. In a medium bowl whisk together milk and flour until smooth...add to onion mixture...cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly...reduce heat to low and add the rest of the cheese...stir until melted...add cooked pasta mixture and stir to coat.

4. Transfer pasta mixture to a cassarole dish...in a small bowl toss panko breadcrumbs with remaining oil and sprinkle on top of pasta...sprinkle with crushed red pepper and italian seasonings...bake for 15 minutes or until top of browned.

This mac and cheese is probably the best mac and cheese I have ever had...it had so much flavor and it was a much healthier option...until I ate almost all of it...and saw it was supposed to feed six...whoops!
If you want to see the original recipe it was in the March 2010 Better Homes and Gardens.
Some pictures of the finished product:

Asain Inspired Turkey Burgers

I was trying to work out and eat healthier for a while so this meant trying to be creative with some healthier ingredients - during this time I made an amazing Asain inspired burger that I think should be featured on a menu somewhere that's how good this burger was;)


- 1 pound ground turkey
-chopped cilantro to taste
-chopped broccoli slaw
-grated fresh ginger
-grated ginger
-a few dashes of hot sauce
-2 teaspoons of soy sauce
-red pepper flakes to taste

Mix all indredients together and shape into burgers. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes or until burgers brown slightly.

The mixture


The finished product - baked burger with ketsup, more broccoli slaw on a whole wheat bun.

Paneer Masala

It's been so long since my last post...I have been cooking just very busy with travel and work...it seem's like there are never enough hours is the day anymore! I had some paneer that I needed to use up so I decided to make paneer masala...it came out very good but also very spicy, next time I think I will cut the amount of garam masala next time! It was also very easy to make - just chop, mix and bake:


- 4 teaspoons powdered garam masala
-1/2 a yellow onion chopped
-2 tablespoons of tomato paste
-one small tomato chopped
-3 tablespoons plain yogurt
-1/2 of a chopped red pepper
-1 block of paneer chopped
-1 cup diced pinapple chunks
-grated garlic and ginger to taste
-some chopped fresh cilantro

I just mixed all ingredients together and baked in a 400 degree preheated oven until the paneer was lightly browned.

All of the veggies chopped....

With the tomato paste, spices and yogurt

After everything was mixed and cooked in the oven.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Heart Stoppers Sports Grill: Check it out while it's still around

A new sports grill opened up in Delray Beach, FL on Linton in the Target shopping center. I came across it the first time by accident as I was getting my hair cut next door and had a little time to kill before my appointment. I wandered into Heart Stoppers and was surprised by what I came across - the whole place is decorated like a hospital and the waitresses wear nurses outfits. There is a "city morgue" wall for pictures of people who try to eat their 3lb burger and fries and fail. There are iv bags and wheel chairs and some of their food - like chili cheese fries - come in a bed pan! The front of the menu warns eating their food will lead to obesity and inside the menu it states that if you weigh in at 350 pounds or more your meal is on them. It is a cute idea if not a bad location. I got to meet the owner and the manager the first time I visited the grill - they were very friendly and even helped me pick out my dinner. I have brought friends here several times now for lunch and they really liked their meals and the idea. Almost everything I have tried there has been great (I am not a fan of their onion rings - not too much flavor) but I must warn not to go there if you are in a rush as the service is a little slow.

My friend's burger and sweet potato fries - she liked everything but said the fries were a little cold...Heart Stoppers offers 30 toppings to add to your burger for free:)

I had the 1/4 pounder and added a ton of toppings -mmm - good, but messy...again, not a huge fan of the onion rings, they are fried in something that almost resembels a tempura batter which is nice and flaky but lacks flavor.

My friend and my lunch the last time I went to Heart Stoppers - note the salt shaker - aka medicine bottle. I had the RIP sandwich - boneless chicken wing sandwich with medium buffalo sauce and blue cheese and my friend had one of the steak sandwiches and we shared an order of fries. Everything was great, tons of flavor, I even liked the fries and I'm not a huge fan of fries typically. My sandwich was amazing but also really messy!
Well, I guess that there is a similar sports bar in Arizona, called Heart Attack Grill which is decorated similarly and has similar menu items...they are suing Heart Stoppers so I say go to Heart Stoppers while you can - just in case...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Brown Sugar Salmon & Pero's new Salad Cut Ups

The company/farm I work for recently came out with a new line - salad cut ups. They have all the mix-ins for salad - you just need to add the lettuce and salad dressing...and if you are like me and hate lettuce, these are perfect for you!

The first salad cut up I tried: Garden - I had chunks of cucumbers, whole grape tomatoes, julienned carrots, diced green peppers and chopped red onions. The first thing I noticed that I really liked was that all of the veggies are individually packaged - I think this is a great idea so everyone can take/use what they want. You also dont need to use the full amount all at once. The second thing I noticed was how fresh and crispy all of the vegetables were. They really all had great taste. I didn't even need to add any salad dressing because they were so flavorful. For me the best thing about this is that I know these veggies are super clean as they go through a series of vitamin baths at our facility and the area they are cut and packaged in is kept free of contaminates. I love this because I know I can just open the package and toss the veggies together - I dont have to worry about cleaning the product.

Like I said, these tasted so good I didn't need to add a salad dressing but I needed a main course. I wanted something a bit lighter with my salad so I decided on salmon.

Brown Sugar Salmon:

-Salmon fillets
-1/4 cup of brown sugar
-panko bread crumbs to cover
-1/2 cup orange juice

-place salmon fillets in a deep pan and make puncture holes several times with a fork
-pour orange juice over salmon filets
-sprinkle with brown sugar and rub into fish
-top with panko bread crumbs

Place in a preheated oven at 400 degrees and bake until salmon flakes with a fork.

Cousin Lisa's Cinnamon Rolls

I recently visited my family in Virginia. My cousin Lisa is a home ec teacher and one of my inspirations to start cooking. I remember Lisa trying to teach me how to make grilled cheese and saute onions for on top of burgers. She was teaching her brother and I how to test if the oil in the pan was hot enough by sprinkling just a little water in the pan...we almost burnt her mother's kitchen down that day...ahh, memories...

Well, I was lucky enough to stay with Lisa on this visit and she made all sorts of yummy things for me like these cinnamon rolls!

Above picture is pre-glazing.

And she even shared the recipe:

-2 and 1/2 to 2 and 3/4 cups flour
-1 package yeast
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of sugar
-2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of crisco
-1/4 cup of warm water (115 degrees)
-1/4 cup of warm milk (155 degress)
-1 egg

-1/4 cup of sug mixed with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
-2 tablespoons of melted butter

-1 cup powdered sugar
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
-1/2 tablespoon milk


In a food processor with dough blade - combine water, milk and yeast. Let yeast soften for about 30 seconds. Then add 1 cup of flour, sugar, crisco, salt, egg and mix together. Add remaining flour a little at a time until dough forms a ball. You may not need all of the flour. Put dough ball in greased bowl and let rise - this should take around 45 minutes to 1 hour. Roll into a rectangle around 12x7 inches. Brush dough with melted butterand sprinkle cinnamon and sugar mixture on top. Roll into log from the long side. Cut into 12 pieces and arrange in a 9 inch circular pan. Let rise for 30 minutes, then bake at 375 degrees for about 18 minutes.

While the rolls are baking combine glaze ingredients in a bowl and mix together. When rolls are done take out of oven and allow to cool slightly before drizzling glaze on top.

Lisa began cutting the rolls and they were getting a bit smooched so she took out a piece of floss and cut the rest of the rolls with floss...I'm not a baker - it's definitely not something I would of thought of - I was very impressed:)

I apparently, was not the only one impress...note the glaze all over her son's face:)

What was left of the rolls after we finished breakfast...yum!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Healthified BBQ Chicken Pizza

No matter how healthy I want to eat there is one thing I could never give up - pizza. So I just need to make it a bit healthier. This BBQ chicken pizza tasted so good and was pretty healthy too.Ingredients:
- honey BBQ sauce (I added too much)
-cubed 50% fat free cedar cheese
-lots of fresh basil
-minced chicken
-organic whole wheat naan bread

I just topped the naan with all of the ingredients and put into a oven preheated at 400. When the cheese melted I put it under the broiler for about 3 minutes...so good...just need less BBQ sauce next time!

Turkey Meatballs

I decided to make a healthier version of turkey meatballs and they came out really well. I took a pound of ground turkey, mixed it with shredded fresh basil, red pepper flakes, dried parsley and grated ginger. I made little balls and put them in a heated pot and added publix tomato sauce with no preservatives and no salt added. It was just a small can so it wasn't enough to cover the meatballs, I added enough water to cover the meatballs and heated on medium heat.

The mixture....

Raw...going into the pot.....

The finished product. What was so amazing was how much much flavor these meatballs packed - and healthy too!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Baked Halibut, spinach and paneer, and stuffed poblano peppers

So anyone who knows me knows I am not in shape at all. Most of my exercise of late has been walking my dogs...so I'm pretty excited to say that I started P90X - an extreme fitness system. Today is my 3rd day. I'm pretty excited about the workouts- I'm also pretty sore right now! I'm not loving the plyometrics at all and I'm really hating the ab ripper...so much pain! But I also need to diet a bit...eat a little heathier. Typically my favorite foods are anything fried or in a cream sauce. I am going by some of the food recommended in the diet plan but also innovating a bit. I really loved the meal I cooked tonight - I think I could eat it everyday! I had a poblano pepper sitting around and also some black beans that needed to be used up so I made a stuffed poblano pepper. The other thing to know about the diet is that it is high protien so the black beans work. I also bought a ton of spinach so that was an easy side...paneer is an Indian cheese that is basicallya block of cottage cheese. Its pretty yummy and stays pretty solid so it can even be subsituted for meat in lots of dishes. I tried eating regular cottage cheese this morning and I couldn't do it - nothing should be runny and chunky at the same time! So I thought paneer would be a great way to get some cottage cheese in me! The last in 6 0unces of Halibut that the program also recommends for dinner.

6 0unce of Halibut filet
lemon juice - sprinkle
garlic salt - sprinkle
dried basil - spinkle
All I did for the Halibut was take it out of the freezer and sprinkle with lemon juice, a little garlic salt and a decent amount of dried basil. I then put it in the oven and baked it at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes. I never had halibut before today, so I added a little sauce. I was expecting it to be fishy. Wow was I wrong, no sauce needed, just amazing taste and all it really needed was the ingredients above. I think if I could eat halibut every day for dinner I would be happy!
Stuffed Poblano Pepper:
one poblano pepper top cut off and de-seeded
a quarter of an ounce of 75% reduced fat cheddar cheese
black beans and a dash of garlic
I just stuffed the cheese and beans in the pepper and put in the oven with the fish at 450 - these were ready to come out when the skin on the pepper started to shrivel - they were ready a few minutes before the fish.
Spinach and Paneer:
a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach
a couple of dashes of dry white wine
a clove of garlic
a quarter of a block of paneer cut into cubes
So I would typically fry the paneer in oil to cook it - this is where the wine came in. I heated a frying pan on medium high heat and and added a dash of white wine and the minced clove of garlic. I let the wine boil down and added the paneer and heated until browned. When the paneer started to brown I lowered the heat and added the fresh spinach. I then added another splash of wine and cooked the wine down. The paneer was much sweeter than usual due to the wine.
This meal is going to be a repeat for sure over the next 90 days of this diet!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Stuffed Red Peppers

With the stuffed flounder I made stuffed red peppers. I have to say these were amazing and I am craving them as I type this post! I think this would have been just as good or even better (if possible) stuffed in a tomato.
-2 extra large red bell pepper
-4 onces fresh mozzarella cheese - diced
-1 teaspoon crushed dried basil
-1 cup fresh diced bread crumbs
-3 teaspoons olive oil
-1 teaspoon lemon juice
-salt and pepper to taste

-preheat oven to 400 degrees
-heat bread crumbs in a frying pan with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and brown on all sides
-while bread crumbs are browning wash peppers and slice top off 1/2 inch from top of pepper - set pepper top aside - clean out seeds
-when bread crumbs are browned mix in a bowl with lemon juice, remaining olive oil, mozzarella cheese, basil and salt and pepper to taste
-stuff peppers with mixture and secure pepper tops with toothpicks
-place in a baking dish and bake for 20 minutes
-when they are ready take out of oven and remove pepper tops - slice each pepper in half and serve!

I made a little extra mixture and it could not all fit in the peppers - it was just as good without being baked! I will definitely be making this again -soon!

Monkey Bread

I have seen recipes for Monkey Bread everywhere and it looked some yummy (anything with brown sugar and cinnamon wins me over easily) I had to try it! This can be eaten for breakfast/brunch or as a dessert with coffee.

-3 cans of 10 count buttermilk biscuts
-1 cup of sugar
-3 tablespoons cinnamon
-1 and 1/2 sticks margarine or butter
-1 cup dark brown sugar
-optional nuts: I used chopped walnuts
-greased pan or bundt pan (If you use a bundt pan put a cookie sheet under it incase any of the butter/margarine melts out of the pan)

-preheat oven to 350 degrees
-mix the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and stir until blended
-rip or cut each biscut into four pieces
-put several pieces at a time into the sugar mixture and coat well
-arrange biscut pieces in pan
-at this time you can sprinkle nuts on top
-melt the margarine/butter and mix in brown sugar and stir until completely blended
-pour the brown sugar and margarine mixture on top and bake for approximately 30 minutes
-take out of oven and let cool for a few minutes before slicing - as it stands it will firm up more

Side view from bundt pan.

I have made this twice now - the first time I made in a pound cake pan and only used 1/3 of all ingredients- I kind of liked it better.

Enjoy for brunch with an omlet and a mimosa:)

Renee's Jo Jo Treats

My coworker Renee makes these for every work party. Someone finally convinced her to give us girls the recipe and now I make them for parties and holidays- everyone loves them and they are so easy to make!

-1 box saltine crackers
-2 sticks of butter
-1 and a half 12 ounce bags of semi sweet chocolate morsels
-1 and 1/4 cups light brown sugar
-Assorted toppings such as: slivered almonds, crushed candy candys, grated coconut and marshmallows

-Preheat over to 400 degrees
-Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil
-Over foil line cookie sheet with crackers in a row to fill entire cookie sheet - never overlap crackers

When crackers are arranged like this you are ready for the next step

-Cut up the 2 sticks of butter and melt slowly in a pan over low heat
-When butter is completely melted add brown sugar and bring to a boil
-Stir or whisk sugar and butter mixture exactly 5 minutes while boiling
-Spoon mixture over crackers - make sure mixture is covering all crackers
-Bake in the oven for 5 minutes
-After the 5 minutes are up take out of oven and evenly distribute chocolate morsels over cookie crackers
-Place back in the oven for another 5 minutes
-When 5 minutes are up take out of oven and spread chocolate over crackers with a knife or spoon
-While chocolate is hot sprinkle toppings of your choice on top
-Refrigerate for at least one hour then take out and peel off of foil and break into pieces (like brittle) the pieces should be different sizes

When you peel the jo-jo treats off of the foil the bottom should be coated with butter and sugar mixture.

I couldnt decide what kind of jo-jo treats I wanted to make so I just made every combination I could think of!

The peppermint one's are my favorite - yum!